Today we dig into the Fuqua School of Business’ application. There are very few changes this year, so our advice remains mostly unchanged:
Duke (Fuqua) Application Deadlines
Early Action: September 29, 2011
Round 1: November 1, 2011
Round 2: January 4, 2012
Round 3: March 8, 2012
These deadlines are virtually the same as last year’s. Note that, while most schools use the term “Early Action” to indicate that the decision is non-binding, Fuqua considers it to be binding. So, we only recommend applying in this round if you’re 100% certain that you want to attend Fuqua. If you’re waiting to hear back from some other schools before applying to Fuqua in Round 2, you’ll need to at least get the ball rolling on your Fuqua application before you know your fate at those other schools, since you won’t have a lot of time between mid-December and Duke’s January 4 deadline. Duke’s Round 3 deadline is the same as it was last year.
Duke (Fuqua) Application Essays
- Describe your vision for your career and your inspiration for pursuing this career path.
This question carries over unchanged from last year, as do all Fuqua’s other two essays. Overall, your approach to this question will be very similar to your approach to other “Why an MBA?” / career goals questions. While you should save the “Why Duke?” material for Question #3, be as specific as possible about how you see your career progressing over the next ten to twenty years. Do you want to dive right into industry and get your hands dirty? Learn as part of a larger operation and “grow up” as a leader, eventually taking the reins of a division within a large company? This is where you need to show that you’ve at least thought these things through, even if you know that you may change your mind one day. And by “specific” we don’t mean that you must spell out that you will spend exactly four years as a management consultant, then three years as a business development manager, etc. Rather, you must show that you can “tie it all together” and envision a realistic career path for yourself after graduating from Fuqua.
Also, this is the time to discuss the career choices you’ve made up until now. Even though the essay asks for your “career vision,” don’t miss the “inspiration” part of the question — this is Fuqua’s way of trying to understand the you’ve made up until now. Your biggest potential mistake here is to give the impression of an applicant who’s applying to Fuqua simply because he’s bored or has stagnated in his current job. You always want to look like an applicant who is moving toward something great, not moving away from something bad.
- How will your background, values, and non-work activities enhance the experience of other Duke MBA students and add value to Fuqua’s diverse culture?
This essay gives you a good chance to specifically highlight any strengths or themes that you want to emphasize more in your application. Everything in your background applies: your work experience, your personal life, and your hobbies all make you unique. Some applicants see this and think, “Oh, it’s a ‘diversity’ question. I’m afraid I don’t bring much ‘diversity’ to the table,” but that’s simply not true. All applicants have some things in their backgrounds that make them interesting… Discuss them here! And, do it in a way that demonstrates that you “get” the values that Fuqua prizes — including teamwork, innovation, and a global perspective.
- Why Duke? (If you are interested in a specific concentration, joint degree, clubs or activities, please discuss how you would contribute to these in this essay.)
Duke, like some other top schools that tend to sit just outside the top ten in the MBA rankings, gets a lot of applications from candidates who also have applied to Harvard, Wharton, etc., and the school is quite savvy at recognizing when an applicant is truly excited about Duke. This is your opportunity to demonstrate that you have really researched the program, understand its core values (mentioned above), and really want to spend the rest of your life as a member of the Fuqua community.
Some applicants will surely rattle of names of classes, professors, and on-campus clubs, to show that they’ve done their homework. For the most part, while this research is critical for you, “showing off” this kind of knowledge usually elicits a “big deal” from admissions officers. Go deeper, and force yourself to answer the question… Why Duke? Some pragmatic components to your response are totally fine — it has strong ties to the health care industry, which is what first drew you to the program, for instance. That’s a completely real, honest response. Then, starting there, move into how you can see yourself thriving in the Duke community. You prefer the school’s teamwork-oriented teaching style since it’s consistent with your undergraduate experience… Every student or alum you have met has raved about the program… That’s just an example, but it’s a more heartfelt, interesting, and effective response than simply rattling off names of clubs, because it’s about you.